Kendrick Lamar to perform on campus for Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City Tour

Kendrick Lamar is set to grace the stage at the State Farm Center’s Star Theatre on Wednesday in front of a nearly sold-out venue, according to Susan Lyman, one of the State Farm Center’s directors of marketing, advertising and promotions.

Lamar’s Champaign performance, starting at 7:30 p.m., will be part of the Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City Tour.

“Kendrick Lamar was brought to campus for the sole entertainment of our students,” Lyman said. “People need to know we can bring big names to Champaign … We don’t want our customer base to have to look outside of our town for that entertainment.”

Lamar burst onto the hip-hop and rap scene after the release of his 2012 album, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City,” which debuted at number two on the Billboard 200. He had three Top 40 hits, including “Swimming Pools,” “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Poetic Justice.”

Since the release of the album, he has made bold statements in hip-hop world, exemplified by his verse in Big Sean’s “Control,” where Lamar calls out the industry’s biggest names and suggests he is better than them. It brings out the competitive spirit in the genre that has long been too friendly, said Cortland Klinefelter, junior in Applied in Health Sciences.

“He’s bringing the rappers back. He’s making it awesome to be an MC now and stopped making it so buddy-buddy,” Klinefelter said. “He’s trying to call out everybody, trying to say, ‘I’m raising the bar high, I need you to jump over it.’”

With a family originally from Chicago, Lamar was born and raised in Compton, Calif.  — a place just outside of Los Angeles notorious for drugs and gang violence. He rose the ranks, steering a straight wheel, and was reportedly a straight-A student at Centennial High School in Compton. He circulated a mix tape at the age of 16, which eventually earned him the attention of Dr. Dre, one of hip hop’s most respected names.

Lamar has since been getting recognition from some of the industry’s most prominent artists, such as Eminem, who praised Lamar in a recent interview with Billboard.

“What he’s doing right now, it’s pretty … incredible. He seems like this kid that’s just full of life and happy to be here. The impact he’s had over just the last couple of years; it’s been really fun for me to watch,” Eminem said in an interview.

Lamar’s narratives of some of the tough struggles in Compton reoccur in his music. It has drawn comparisons with the late Tupac Shakur, the 1990s hip-hop mogul who also grew up in Compton.

“We never know how far Tupac could’ve gone if he hadn’t died, but I think at this point, (Lamar) is the best MC of our time,” Klinefelter said.

Lawrence Mead, freshman in LAS, is an aspiring rapper who has been touched by Lamar’s story and electrified by Lamar’s rise to stardom.

“His history tells me that, in a sense, I can make it as a rapper, as well. He is the next Tupac. He is the next Biggie,” Mead said. “In a sense, I feel like he’s getting ready to create monsters in the rap game,” Mead said.

The concert will be the second time Lamar has been on campus, after making a special guest appearance with Drake in 2011. This time around, he will be visiting with several BET awards under his belt and plenty of student praise.

“His lyrics are amazing; they’re real,” said Krista Franklin, freshman in LAS. “It seems like he’s experienced. He has a good influence in hip hop — he doesn’t rap about sex and stuff — he raps more about how he made it out.”

Tickets for the show are still available and range from $30 to $42.50.

Eliseo can be reached at [email protected]